// 24% of UK retailers hit by supply disruption amid coronavirus concerns
// Only 7% of retailer have enough flexibility in supply chain to be able to switch suppliers
// New research shows half of shoppers would consider buying more goods online if virus persists
Twenty-four per cent of British retailers have said the supply chain disruptions from coronavirus could lead to “a permanent change in their business”, a new survey has found.
However, only seven per cent of these retailers – ranging from food to fashion and health and beauty – said they had enough flexibility in their supply chain to be able to switch suppliers.
The survey, in which consultancy firm Retail Economics questioned 30 retailers, also found that one in 10 people have already started stockpiling food because of fear of an outbreak in the UK.
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Highlighting the potential impact on British retailers and consumer behaviour as a result of coronvirus, the report found that 45 per cent of retailers have already seen a negative impact on sales.
Meanwhile, three-quarters of retailers expect to see a sales decline if the virus persists.
A separate UK household survey by Retail Economics found that 15 per cent of people were were avoiding public transport, while 23 per cent were avoiding contact with other people and nine per cent are shunning restaurants and leisure destinations.
Should the coronavirus situation escalate, a third said they would consider avoiding public transport, with almost 30 per cent stating they would stop going to restaurants and cinemas and a quarter avoiding shopping destinations all together.
The data suggests this could have a potential impact on footfall and consumer spending on the high street.
However, Retail Economics’ report, which was done in conjunction with law firm Squire Patton Boggs, said 49 per cent of shoppers would consider buying more goods online to avoid physical shops if coronavirus persists.
Despite this, half of the consumer surveyed said they would avoid buying online from international sellers that ship products directly from China, where the coronavirus outbreak began.
“Retailers are battling against significant disruption to supply chains as the coronavirus has choked off production in China,” Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim said.
“While the impacts may not yet be apparent on shop shelves, around a third of retailers suggested that ‘continuity of supply’ is currently their biggest concern.
“Of even greater concern for other retailers is the impact on consumer confidence and the effect this will have on their behaviour.
“The proportion of consumers currently avoiding international travel, using public transport and going to shopping destinations have all risen sharply over the last two weeks. Almost half of consumers say they will avoid international travel if the virus persists, while a third will avoid public transport and a quarter retail destinations.”